Friday, December 29, 2006

What I said. . .

I know it is music to no one’s ears to hear me toot my own horn, but it is nice to see that I am not only one who found Gerald Ford’s post-parting confession cowardly and immoral. Marty Kaplan and RJ Eskow, each writing for the Huffington Post, take unflinching aim at the now dead president. First, Kaplan:

There was no national interest to be served by [Ford] keeping his thoughts to himself. Former presidents may constitute a kind of Skull & Bones, but speaking out to try to save us from our next "long national nightmare" would have been way more patriotic than preserving the towel-snapping bonhomie of the Ex-POTUS Society.

. . . .

Why do these people wait? What does it say about Washington's code of conduct that loyalty to patrons, power and Party outweighs loyalty to truth, to country, to national security, to tens of thousands of America's finest young people, now wounded or dead?

But, while Kaplan forgives Bob Woodward’s silence, giving him the “permission structure” to cut himself a sweet deal by embargoing the truth, Eskow does not:

Here's how to have it both ways in Washington while avoiding your civic duty: Turn your back on your professional responsibility when it might take some guts, but make sure a story comes out later that demonstrates how right you were all along. Am I referring to Bob Woodward, who suppressed an interview for two years that might have changed the course of history? Or do I mean Gerald Ford, who wants to be remembered well now that he's gone?

I mean both.

I think the world of Marty Kaplan, but I think he's wrong to reserve his criticism for Ford in the matter of this interview. Woodward bears responsibility, too, although Ford's moral transgression is greater. There are no words strong enough to describe the shame that should follow a former President who knew a war was wrong, yet remained silent out of partisan loyalty even as young Americans continued to die.

Gerald Ford's proper epitaph, had this interview not come to light, would have been: "He obstructed justice, but he was a nice guy." His Nixon pardon didn't "heal the nation," pundits notwithstanding. It outraged a nation that was hungry for justice after being lied to and manipulated. That's why he lost in 1976.

. . . .

Woodward and his journalistic ilk have created an environment where their fellow Washington insiders can encourage and promote a tragic mistake like Iraq, through their silence and their support for the Republicans in '04, then magically wipe their own records clean with a well-timed interview.

. . . .

In fact, Woodward's confessional booth serves the same purpose as Ford's pardon-in-advance technique: It allows the powerful to do wrong with the comforting knowledge that all can be smoothed over further down the road.

Both Kaplan and Eskow go into more detail well worth reading. For my part, I’d just like to thank them both for getting my back.

What I didn’t say

Foreign Policy has released its annual list of the Top Ten Stories You Missed, and, I admit, I missed most of them, too. Six or seven of those stories are pretty disturbing, but the top four really starch my socks.

4. Russia Fuels Latin American Arms Race
3. Bush’s Post-Katrina Power Grab
2. China Runs Up African Debt
1. India helps Iran Build the Bomb, While the White House Looks the Other Way

Numbers two and four are pretty much self-explanatory and concern governments that the US has woefully little influence over, but the other two, well, them is us.

Story three concerns a little bit of language quietly inserted into an October defense spending bill that, as Congressional Quarterly put it, “takes the cuffs off” federal restraint during emergencies. The new law makes it much, much easier for the federal government (or, this “unitary executive”) to send troops without a state governor’s invitation into a trouble spot somewhere in this country to impose order. . . or martial law.

Story one concerns the disturbing confluence of two already disturbing storylines: Iran’s nuclear program and the Bush Administration’s new nuclear deal with India. It seems that while the White House is so hot and bothered about Tehran’s rush to develop nuclear weapons, it keeps cool about what several Indian concerns have done to aid Iran. What’s a little hypocrisy when you can make your friends some (more) money and beat the drums of war (more loudly) at the same time?

All ten stories are interesting, and I feel a bit sheepish about not noticing some of them, myself. So, again, this time to FP, thanks for getting my back.


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